Introduction: Cosmi’s Unique Gun
The word to describe the Cosmi semi-automatic shotgun is “unique”. This is a gun that combines uniqueness, with a build quality that is second to none, but it is a gun that despite its uniqueness makes complete practical sense.
To sum up the Cosmi it can most simply be described as a break action semi-automatic gun. It has a top lever just like an over and under or side by side gun and if that lever is pushed to the right the gun opens revealing the breech. But the story does not end there: the recoil spring is housed in a tube that runs under the barrel, so the fore-end is kept much smaller than on a typical semi-automatic gun which has its bulky magazine tube under the barrel. This is because the recoil spring tube is much smaller in diameter than a tubular magazine.
The tubular magazine of the Cosmi extends back from the action into the buttstock. To load the magazine cartridges are laid onto the follower and pushed backwards into the tube magazine, with capacity typically being seven or eight cartridges depending on gauge and shell length.
There are a couple of significant benefits that are inherent to the Cosmi design. The first of these is in the way the Cosmi enhances instinctive gun handling: because the recoil spring tube that sits under the barrel is of a relatively small diameter it allows the use of a more slender fore-end. This places the barrel lower into the shooter’s hand assisting with instinctive pointing.
The second benefit comes from the placement of the magazine in the buttstock. Having the weight of the shotgun shells in the buttstock rather than in a tube magazine under the barrel tends to make the balance of the gun feel more consistent. This feeling of consistency occurs because the weight of the cartridges in the buttstock magazine is supported by the shooter’s shoulder and right hand (in the case of a right handed shooter). This places the weight of the cartridges directly over the shooter’s center of gravity, and this means that the changes to the weight of the gun as shots are fired will have much less effect on the shooter’s perception of the balance of the gun by comparison to a semi-automatic with a tube magazine under the gun’s barrel. The weight of the cartridges in an under-barrel tube magazine is located forward of the shooter’s body, and thus forward of their center of gravity which results in a much more noticeable change in gun handling as shots are fired.
For a quick video explanation see the video below from Pacificsporting
You will find the Pacific Sporting Arms East web page for Cosmi if you click here.
Cosmi: Company History
Rodolfo Cosmi entered the world of gunmaking as a young man with not a lot of money. He wanted a shotgun, but could not afford one, so he decided to cobble together some random bits and pieces and make his own. He managed to get his hands on some worn out parts from an old shotgun, but there was the problem of finding a suitable barrel. Young Rodolfo hit upon the idea of using an umbrella tube with which to make his barrel. We must assume that back in those days Italian umbrellas were made to last, unlike the cheap one’s that come from China nowadays, and so it was that young Rodolfo Cosmi did not blow himself up but finished up with an umbrella gun he could actually fire and survive the experience. Its a story that reminds me of an old friend who was doing a television interview on the subject of antique guns. The lady interviewer was very anti-gun and at one stage she aggressively asked the question “but can these guns be fired?” intending to suggest that these antiques would have to be rendered inoperable. As it happened both my friend and the lady interviewer were sitting on tubular steel chairs and so my friend answered her “Madam, I could fire the chair you are sitting on”.
The story did not stop with young Rodolfo making his first shotgun and living to tell the tale however: as he told the tale and demonstrated his umbrella shotgun there were a few other young guys who decided that they’d like a Rodolfo Cosmi umbrella gun also. Rodolfo made a few guns for his friends, but then decided that if he was going to make a business out of gunmaking he’d better get some proper training. The best place he could do that was London in England, and he managed to get work at a number of gunsmiths in London to learn the skills of a gunmaker properly.
Over the years Rodolfo learned enough, and made enough, to establish his own gunmaking workshop. It was in these years that he got the idea for his semi-automatic shotgun. After much experimentation he finalized his design in 1925, and began offering the Cosmi semi-automatic shotgun as a custom made bespoke gun. The Cosmi gun became known and well respected, so much so that the King of Italy purchased one as did Italy’s prime minister among other prominent people.
Cosmi Guns Today
The first Cosmi semi-automatic gun made in 1925 is still working perfectly, a testament to the longevity of these guns. Today the Cosmi is made in four versions; the “Steel”, the “Titanium”, the “Superleggero Titanio”, and the “Editions” models.
The “Steel”, as the name suggests, is the classic version of the Cosmi that is much like the 1925 original. Made using over one hundred parts, and assembled without the need for screws. This gun is advertised as “the only luxury semi-automatic shotgun in the world”. Magazine capacity is up to eight rounds depending on gauge chosen. It is made in 12, 16, 20, 28 and 410 gauge and can be ordered in Deluxe Standard, Extra Deluxe and Prestige versions.
The second model of the Cosmi line-up is the “Titanium”. The Titanium is made using lightweight titanium to bring the weight of the gun down and make the handling even more exemplary. Because the semi-automatic action of the Cosmi significantly reduces recoil the Titanium combines lightness with mild recoil.
The last model is the “Superleggero Titanio”, this is the top of the line Cosmi shotgun. Cosmi spent twenty years developing and perfecting the Superleggero Titanio: its weight in a 12 gauge with no barrel rib is less than three kilograms, yet the Cosmi semi-automatic action’s recoil absorbing properties ensure it is a very comfortable gun to shoot.
The Superleggero Titanio is available with Bohler Maraging steel barrel.
Cosmi also manufacture their “Editions” shotguns; the “Gold” and the “Ceramic”. The Gold edition features internal parts plated with 24 carat gold. This provides 100% resistance to corrosion, and improved absorption of vibrations.
The other special Cosmi Edition is the “Ceramic”. This gun’s ceramic finish provides exceptionally vivid artistic decoration.
The Cosmi semi-automatic shotgun combines instinctive pointability with minimal recoil in a gun that can be expected to last for generations. These are an exquisitely hand made luxury gun that tend to become a family heirloom simply because the owner does not wish to part with it until they “go to join the choir invisible”, and the gun is passed down through the generations.
If you would like to find out more about Cosmi and their guns you will find their website if you click here. You will find that they make both their unique semi-automatic guns and also classic side by side double guns that are graceful things of beauty. If you are in the market for a bespoke gun with Italian artistry then the works of Cosmi are well worth looking at.
Jon Branch is the founder and senior editor of Revivaler and has written a significant number of articles for various publications including official Buying Guides for eBay, classic car articles for Hagerty, magazine articles for both the Australian Shooters Journal and the Australian Shooter, and he’s a long time contributor to Silodrome.
Jon has done radio, television, magazine and newspaper interviews on various issues, and has traveled extensively, having lived in Britain, Australia, China and Hong Kong. His travels have taken him to Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan and a number of other countries. He has studied the Japanese sword arts and has a long history of involvement in the shooting sports, which has included authoring submissions to government on various firearms related issues and assisting in the design and establishment of shooting ranges.